Engaging Minds, a campus organization that seeks to combat stereotypes, is aiming to dispel stigmas surrounding law enforcement officers through its Coffee With a Cop series.
The series brings together the ASU community with its law enforcement officers for casual conversations over coffee. In addition to encouraging these interactions, the series recognizes standout officers for their service.
A 2017 Gallup poll shows that overall confidence in police among Americans returned to its 25-year average after dropping to a historic low in 2015. However, according to the 2017 poll, confidence in police among Hispanics, liberals and people under 35 has dropped.
Events like Coffee With a Cop “let (police) avoid divisions and helps us provide better community-oriented policing,” said Katy Harris, a spokesperson with the ASU Police Department. Harris said community engagement pays off when police departments need the public's collaboration during investigations.
The series was started in spring 2017 and initially only ASU Police were invited. The April 10 event was the first time the Phoenix Police Department was invited.
“It’s a good opportunity to approach law enforcement in a casual environment instead of the usual negative situations,” Harris said. “Students will find that they have a lot more in common with police than they might think. A lot of our officers are ASU alumni and have children in school. A lot of them are also current students trying further their education.”
Read more: Engaging Minds aims to break the barriers of multiple stigmas and stereotypes
Attendees can make small talk, ask officers about their work, express concerns they might have about their community and can also ask about services like active shooter training.
Zev Goldberg, a forensic sciences sophomore and Engaging Minds member, said attendees can even ask about "bad apples" in a police department.
“(Coffee With a Cop) is a very useful tool to learn about what its like to be in law enforcement. It shows that officers are people to, there is more to them than just a uniform,” Goldberg said.
Engaging Minds' overall goal is eliminating stereotypes, and it started Coffee With a Cop to give back to officers who have supported the organization and served the community.
Harris said ASUPD views these events as ideal for bridging the divide between law enforcement and the communities they serve and has started accepting invitations to similar events like Froyo With a Cop.
Organization founder and nonprofit management and leadership graduate student Michelle Di Muria said officers who participate have expressed satisfaction with an increase in casual interactions initiated by students as a result of the series.
“I thinks its important for students to remember that police officers are someone’s husband, someone’s significant other, someone’s son, daughter, and we have to look past the uniform,” Di Muria said.
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